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Diamond Miners: What Role Do They Play in the Diamond Industry?

Behind the glamor and the allure of the diamond industry lie the diamond miners and other key players. In this article, we’ll delve into the latest developments in the diamond industry, shedding light on the top diamond mining companies, their influence on the market, and their broader challenges. Diamond miners are the first line of the pipeline supplying the world’s diamond market. 

We’ll also explore their impact on the environment, their efforts to implement sustainable solutions, and their role in local communities. 

Top 4 Diamond Mining Companies at the Moment

Diamond mining is a competitive industry, and staying at the forefront requires dedication, innovation, and investment. Some companies have been able to achieve this goal more effectively than others.

According to NS Energy Business, the top five diamond mining companies in the world at the moment (and their output) are:

  1. De Beers – 30.78 million carats

De Beers is an iconic name in the diamond world, boasting a history dating back to 1888. Initially founded in South Africa by Cecil Rhodes, it has evolved significantly. AngloAmerican now holds majority control of De Beers. 

Despite past criticisms of monopolizing the industry, De Beers remains a significant player, with operations spanning South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Canada. 

Beyond mining, it operates through Diamond Trading Company (DTC), the world’s leading diamond supplier by value, and De Beers Diamond Jewellers Ltd., which sells polished diamond jewelry globally.

  1. Debswana Diamond – 23.3 million carats

Debswana Diamond Company Ltd., headquartered in Botswana, represents a joint venture between De Beers and the Botswana government. Established in 1969, it’s the sole entity allowed to mine diamonds in Botswana, managing all four of the country’s diamond mines—Orapa, Jwaneng, Letlhakane, and Damtshaa. 

Debswana plays a pivotal role in Botswana’s economic prosperity, contributing half of the nation’s revenues and a significant portion of its exports. Utilizing advanced technology, including x-ray and laser sorting, it maximizes the value of its diamonds. Many of its diamonds are distributed through De Beers’ Diamond Trading Company.

  1. Rio Tinto Diamonds – 4.7 million carats

Rio Tinto Diamonds, a subsidiary of the Rio Tinto Group, is a significant player with operations across the globe. It owns the Diavik mine in Canada and previously was operating the renowned Argyle mine in Western Australia, famous for its pink diamonds. Rio Tino has also started diamond exploration activities in Angola recently.  

Diamonds from Rio Tinto are meticulously sorted, evaluated, and categorized in Antwerp, Belgium, before being sold into the midstream.

  1. Burgundy Diamond Mines – 4.5 million carats

Burgundy Diamond Mines is based in Australia. Its primary operations revolve around the Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Burgundy is known for its commitment to sustainable mining practices and offers the CanadaMark™, assuring the Canadian origin of its diamonds. 

In 2023, Choron became a material shareholder in Burgundy Diamond Mines and holds just over 8% of the company. Choron is committed to investing into sustainable mining operations and tier one jurisdiction assets.

The company carefully sorts rough diamonds in Belgium and India before selling their diamonds through their sales office in Antwerp. Burgundy directly sells its diamonds to manufacturers, including renowned names like Tiffany & Co.

How Do Diamond Mining Companies Influence the Diamond Trade?

These diamond mining companies wield substantial influence over the diamond trade, from the initial sourcing and extraction of rough diamonds to their transformation into polished gems and eventual distribution to consumers. 

Their control over the supply chain enables them to: 

  • Set (or at least influence) prices
  • Establish quality standards
  • Shape diamond market trends

Their influence also extends to various stakeholders, including diamond manufacturers, jewelry designers, auction houses, and retailers.

From Manufacturers to Auction Houses

Manufacturers play a pivotal role in the industry as they transform rough and polished diamonds ready for sale. Auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s facilitate the sale of exceptional diamonds, often fetching record-breaking prices. These intermediaries provide a platform for collectors and investors to acquire these unique treasures, further adding to the allure of diamonds.

Other Challenges and News

Next, it’s helpful to highlight some of the challenges currently facing the diamond industry and recent news related to these mining companies. 

Impact on the Environment

The diamond industry has faced scrutiny for its environmental impact. However, the industry is increasingly aware of these issues and many organizations are actively working toward implementing sustainable practices.

Implementing Sustainable Solutions

Initiatives include responsible mining practices, community engagement, and investment in renewable energy. These companies address environmental concerns by minimizing their ecological footprint while contributing positively to the industry’s image.

Impact on Local Communities

Diamond mining often occurs in regions where communities rely on these operations for livelihood. Companies are recognizing the importance of social responsibility. Some implement programs that benefit local communities through education, healthcare, and economic development. This fosters a more symbiotic relationship between miners and the areas they operate in.

For example, the Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF) focuses on creating educational and entrepreneurship opportunities in diamond-producing regions. By investing in local communities, the DEF aims to create a sustainable future for the industry and the people it affects.

New Tech and Smart Mining

Innovations in technology, including smart diamond mining, are reshaping diamond mining. Automated equipment, real-time data analysis, and advanced geological surveys have increased efficiency and safety in mines. Additionally, blockchain technology is used to create transparent supply chains, ensuring consumers can confidently trace their diamonds’ origin.

Responsible Sustainability Starts at the Mine

These mines represent the top-producing diamond mines in the world. As global demand for diamonds rises, these operations will play a crucial role in meeting that demand. 

However, with increasing scrutiny of environmental and social impacts, the industry must continue to prioritize sustainability and responsible practices. By doing so, diamond mining can continue to thrive while contributing positively to local communities and the environment.  

At Choron Group, we believe in responsible and sustainable diamond mining. We are committed to working with companies that prioritize ethical practices and promote a positive impact on the communities they operate in. Learn more about our commitment and approach to sustainability.

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